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Adobe Flash Catalyst: Under the Hood, Part 1 Introduction

Adobe Flash Catalyst is a new tool for Web designers that helps them participate more fully in Flex application development.

It's my pleasure to welcome a pair of guest bloggers to our site today: James Polanco and Aaron Pedersen are the guiding geniuses behind the Web development firm developmentarc.com, based in San Francisco. James and Aaron are working on a book for Adobe Press on integrating Adobe Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder 4 (both just released as public betas today) into the Web designer/developer workflow. Throughout June, they'll be posting a weekly series of items that takes a peek "under the hood" of these innovative tools. Check back each Monday for a new installment!

Adobe Flash Catalyst: Under the Hood—Part 1 Introduction

by James Polanco and Aaron Pedersen

Over the past two years you may have seen (or heard about) demos of Flash Catalyst (formerly codenamed "Thermo"), Adobe’s new interactive Web design tool. With Catalyst,  Adobe hopes to create a tool that allows designers to participate more fully in the realm of Flex development.  The tool promises a streamlined workflow that bypasses the often hard to overcome division between designer and developer.  Typically this is handled with a “throw it over the fence” philosophy that requires the other side to blindly address the needs of their counterpart.

Today Adobe has at long last released the first public beta of Flash Catalyst, which is now available for download from Adobe Labs. At the same time, Adobe has released a public beta of  the developer counterpart to Flash Catalyst: Flash Builder 4 (previously known as "Flex Builder 4").  With the two releases the Flex designer/developer community now has a playground for testing, investigating, developing with the new software, as well as a conduit for providing input to the overall development effort for the Flash Platform.

We were asked to speak at the Adobe MAX 2008 conferences in San Francisco and Milan about the effect these new products would have on the interaction between designer and developer. Because of this opportunity we had to dive head first into the features of both Flash Catalyst and (at that time) Flex Builder 4. This research required us to define potential best practices and optimized workflows using Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder, and Adobe Creative Suite.  

Peachpit and Adobe Press are giving us the opportunity to take our findings and recommendations and publish them as a book. We are proud to be co-authoring the book with Doug Winnie, who is a Group Product Manager at Adobe and an expert on web workflows. We are taking our past development experiences, together with the results of our current and future research to provide a manual that all Flex development team members (i.e. executives, project manager, designers, developers, release engineers) can read to help facilitate efficient team planning, design, development, and maintenance, using the newest Adobe Flash Platform technologies.  

In the meantime we plan to help jump start the community's understanding of the products by publishing a series of blog posts that share our experience with Flash Catalyst and what we've found under its hood. In the series we will investigate what Flash Catalyst is, why it will be useful, what the new technologies are and features that drive its collaboration with both Flash Builder and Adobe Creative Suite. We will also try to cover general workflow improvements these technologies will provide our development teams.

In next week's episode: What Flash Catalyst means for the Flash Platform.

Part 2: The Platform

Part 3: Design Integration Workflows

Part 4: Converting & Skinning Components

Part 5: The Transport

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